Document 67064

The Reggio Emilia Approach to
Early Years Education
I wish to express my sincere thanks to Pat Wharton, Diane Alexander and Eileen Carmichael
for their generous contributions to the first and second editions of this document.
I would also like to thank all the children, educators and parents of the many Reggio schools
who gave so generously of their time and answered my questions with enthusiasm and
And finally, a special thankyou to Ruben, Sebastian and Emily … my three Reggio children!
First published 1999
New edition published 2006
© Learning and Teaching Scotland 2006
ISBN-13: 978-184399-136-6
ISBN-10: 1-84399-135-7
General Information
What is the ‘Reggio Approach’?
The Image of the Child
The Expressive Arts in the Pre-school: ‘The Hundred Languages’
Community and Parent–School Relationships
Teachers as Learners
What can the Scottish Early Years Education System Learn
from the Reggio Approach?
Adaptation of a Pedagogical Approach
Reflecting on Current Practice
Physical Features
Partnership with Parents
The Role of the Adult
Initial Teacher Training and Professional Development
News Articles
Conference Papers
In educational terms the northern Italian town of Reggio Emilia has a firmly established
worldwide reputation for forward thinking and excellence in its approach to early childhood
education. North American and Scandinavian educators have long recognised the importance
of the continuing educational development that is taking place in the Reggio model, and there is
much about the approach that is of interest to educators in Scotland. It is a socio-constructivist
model. That is, it is influenced by the theory of Lev Vygotsky, which states that children (and
adults) co-construct their theories and knowledge through the relationships that they build
with other people and the surrounding environment. It also draws on the work of others such
as Jean Piaget, Howard Gardner and Jerome Bruner. It promotes an image of the child as a
strong, capable protagonist in his or her own learning, and, importantly, as a subject of rights.
It is distinguished by a deeply embedded commitment to the role of research in learning and
teaching. It is an approach where the expressive arts play a central role in learning and where a
unique reciprocal learning relationship exists between teacher and child. Much attention is given
to detailed observation and documentation of learning and the learning process takes priority
over the final product. It is a model that demonstrates a strong relationship between school and
community and provides a remarkable programme for professional development.
Since this paper was first written, in 1998, the town of Reggio Emilia has undergone significant
change and evolution at a socio-cultural and demographic level. The population of this medium
sized Italian town was 135,406 in 1995 and according to the 2004 census now stands at
155.1911. This population growth is due to a number of factors, such as the increase of the
average lifespan, an increase in the birth rate (which is significantly higher than in other parts
of northern Italy) and increasing immigration both from other parts of Italy and from other
countries, both within and outwith the European Union.
Reggio Emilia is a very prosperous town that boasts a strong cultural heritage, historic
architecture and beautiful squares. The citizens of Reggio Emilia are served by generally efficient
public services. The town has a strong tradition of co-operation and inclusion that cuts across
social and economic boundaries, and politically the people continue to show their support for
the Socialist Parties. Increased immigration, however, has undoubtedly created new challenges
for Reggio Emilia and the town is experiencing a period of transition in terms of cultural
awareness. The number of non-European immigrants resident in Reggio Emilia has risen from
5090 in 1997 to 15,052 in 2005. This is an increase which has not gone unnoticed by Italians.
Equally, while local government remains committed to the development of social policies that
actively support families and children, there is an increasing sense of precariousness in early
childhood services because of national government legislation. As ever, educators, parents and
citizens in Reggio Emilia have been vocal in protesting against such economic cuts and reduction
in staff numbers. Indeed, at the time of writing there have been protests in the form of signing
petitions and opening pre-school establishments to the public on Saturday mornings with the
purpose of highlighting this precariousness.
Census figures and population growth figures are cited from Reggio in Cifre published by Comune di Reggio Emilia, 1995.
The education that the Reggio schools provide is the result of a long and gradual process that
continues to evolve. We must look back to the period immediately after the Second World
War to understand the genesis of what has become known as the ‘Reggio Approach’. Two
factors can be seen to have had a fundamental and far-reaching effect.
It was the parents and citizens of Reggio Emilia who, in a show of collective responsibility and
the desire to create a better society for their children, occupied a disused building that they
turned into the first nursery school. This and the other schools that followed were quite literally
built by the people.
The effort and will of the parents was given direction through the extraordinary vision of
Loris Malaguzzi, at the time a young teacher, who dedicated his life to the development of
the philosophy now known as the Reggio Approach. In 1963 the local council or municipality
opened the first municipal pre-school establishments for children of 3–6 years and in 1970
these were joined by the first infant-toddler centres for infants from three months to 3 years.
In the late 1960s the original schools founded in the post-war period were integrated into the
municipal system and given renewed impetus.
From the start the municipal-run schools have been committed to progressive thinking and the
advancement of an educational project that centres on the child. For these reasons the Reggio
schools have attracted significant global interest and received international accolades. Foreign
interest originally began in the 1970s with the creation of a touring exhibition of the work taking
place in the schools. The exhibition was originally called The Eye Jumps over the Wall and is now
known as The Hundred Languages of Children. It has been shown throughout the world and
continues to evolve. The number of people worldwide who visit the schools and attend the
conferences organised by the private organisation called Reggio Children continues to increase.
Reggio Children was founded in 1995 in response to the level of global interest in Reggio and
has as its full title The Centre for the Promotion and Defence of the Rights of Children. It aims
to share its expertise both nationally and internationally and promote research in the field. As a
result of exemplary work being done, a number of awards have been bestowed on the schools
and the people involved:
• in 1992, the late Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the philosophy, was awarded the Danish
LEGO Prize for his outstanding work in the field of early childhood education
• in 1993, Reggio schools were given an award by the Kohl Foundation in Chicago
• in 1994, the Hans Christian Andersen Prize was awarded to the schools in recognition of
their work.
In 1995 two important events took place. Dr Jerome S Bruner visited the schools and was so
deeply impressed by the experience that he established a relationship with the schools based
on promoting and improving educational systems globally. A link between Reggio and the Italian
Ministry of Education was also established with the aim of creating a common programme of
professional development throughout the country.
Many prizes have been bestowed on the Reggio Emilia 0–6 school experience between 1995
and 2006. Examples of these are:
• in 2000, the Klods Hans Prize 2000 was awarded by the city of Hirsthals, Denmark, for
commitment to the defence and development of children’s rights in the field of education
• in 2001, a prize was awarded by the city of Blois, France, in recognition of the quality of the
educational experience
• in 2001, the Gold Medal for merit in schools, culture and art was awarded by Carlo
Azeglio Ciampi, President of the Republic of Italy, in memory of Loris Malaguzzi
• in 2002, the Nonino Prize for an Italian maestro of our times was awarded to the
educational project for early childhood in the municipality of Reggio Emilia.
At the time of writing, perhaps the most significant event in the development of this unique
educational experience has been the opening (February 2006) of the Loris Malaguzzi International
Centre of Childhood. The centre, which is partially open to the public, is still in the development
phase but it has already been host to different exhibitions and meetings on the theme of
childhood and education. It now has conference rooms, a theatre, exhibition spaces and working
creative and scientific ateliers which were developed by parents in conjunction with educators
and atelieristas. The next phase will see the opening of restaurants and a new pre-school
establishment on the site. Crucially, the international centre is seen as a place for the defence
and promotion of the rights of all children and young people. The atelier and other spaces will
be used by children and young people up to 18 years of age, a step which highlights the town of
Reggio Emilia’s commitment to all young people and not just children of pre-school age.
In recent years there has been a significant development in the organisation and running of the
municipal infant-toddler centres and pre-school establishments of Reggio Emilia. In 2003 the
municipality took the decision to manage the network of services through a new body known
as an Istituzione. The change took place not in a move towards privatisation of any sort, as has
occasionally been suggested, but rather in an attempt to give greater organisational freedom
to the schools as the Istituzione has its own board of directors and, importantly, its own
independent budget. So far the change has generally been seen by educators to be a positive
one, with very little change in the daily life of the schools.
In 2006, there are now 22 pre-school establishments being managed by the Istituzione (of
which two are affiliated co-operatives). There are also 24 infant-toddler centres (of which
13 are municipal schools and 11 are affiliated co-operatives). This network of schools in
conjunction with state provision and religious pre-school establishments means that every child
of pre-school age is guaranteed a school place. Consequently over 90 per cent of pre-schoolage children are enrolled in a pre-school establishment.2
While the parents’ financial contribution is means-tested, the local government commits 12
per cent of its entire budget to supporting the schools – more than any other Italian local
government. Indeed the contribution made by parents covers the cost of the children’s lunch
and nothing more.
This is therefore very much a community-based project. The schools are linked directly to the
Istituzione through the board of directors and the general director (presently Sergio Spaggiari)
and the Istituzione works closely with a group of curriculum team leaders or advisers, each of
whom is known as a pedagogista. Each pedagogista co-ordinates the teaching in a group of
schools and centres.
In terms of staffing, each school comprises two teachers per classroom, one atelierista (a
specialist arts teacher who works closely with teachers on all areas of learning, teaching and
documentation), a cook and several auxiliary staff – kitchen assistants and cleaners – who are
all equally valued as playing fundamental roles in the life of the school. There is no principal of
the school and no promoted staff structure. Teachers work in pairs and remain with the same
group of children for the three-year period, developing a strong sense of community.
The organisation of the schools is as follows. Teaching staff work a total of 36 hours per week,
of which 30 hours are spent with the children. The remaining six hours are used for a variety of
purposes, including professional development, planning, preparation of materials and meetings
with families. Teachers work on a shift system that rotates weekly. The schools are open from
8.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. daily with the option of a 7.30 a.m. start and an extended day until
6.20 p.m. for those families who file a special request. As well as two full-time teachers in each
All figures in this secton are extracted from Reggio Children’s mission statement published by Reggio Children, 2005.
section there is also a part-time teacher who covers the extended day and works from 3.30
p.m. until 6.30 p.m. Teachers always work in pairs and each pair of teachers (co-teachers) is
responsible for a maximum of 24 children at nursery school level. In Reggio, nursery education
is regarded as multi-functional, providing high-quality education and childcare for the children of
people who work. Most educational activities take place in the morning. Children have lunch
together and then spend part of the afternoon asleep. As no hierarchy exists within the school
staff, teachers are involved in all aspects of the daily routine including meal times and bed times;
emphasising the ethos of collectivity and participation that pervades all areas of school life.
The following factors are inherent in the Reggio Approach:
the image of the child
the expressive arts in the pre-school establishment
community and parent–school relationships
teachers as learners.
Each of these will be considered separately, although they are generally interrelated.
The Image of the Child
Our image of children no longer considers them as isolated and egocentric, does
not only see them as engaged in action with objects, does not emphasise only
the cognitive aspects, does not belittle feelings or what is not logical and does not
consider with ambiguity the role of the reflective domain. Instead our image of the
child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent and, most of all, connected to
adults and children.
Loris Malaguzzi3
All that takes place within the Reggio schools in terms of learning and teaching, building
relationships and professional development stems from one overriding factor – the image
of the child. Rather than seeing the child as an empty vessel waiting eagerly to be filled with
knowledge, Reggio educators believe strongly in a child with unlimited potential who is eager to
interact with and contribute to the world. They believe in a child who has a fundamental right
to ‘realise and expand their potential’. This is a child who is driven by curiosity and imagination,
a capable child who delights in taking responsibility for his or her own learning, a child who
listens and is listened to, a child with an enormous need to love and to be loved, a child who is
valued. Indeed the way in which children’s many strengths and abilities are valued and ‘listened
to’ is fundamental to this approach. While international visitors so often concentrate on the
graphic and visual aspects of children’s work, the words and conversations of the children
demonstrate capacities to reflect and make hypotheses on very complex and often abstract
thoughts and ideas, when given the time and emotional space to do so. Fundamentally, then,
this is an image of a child who is a subject of rights. This is highlighted in the creation of a
‘Charter of Rights’, a manifesto of the rights of parents and teachers as well as children, which
is evident in every school. It states that: Children have the right to be recognised as subjects of
individual, legal, civil, and social rights; as both source and constructors of their own experience,
and thus active participants in the organisation of their identities, abilities, and autonomy, through
relationships and interaction with their peers, with adults, with ideas, with objects and with the real
and imaginary events of intercommunicating worlds. 4
Malaguzzi, L., quoted in Penn, H., Comparing Nurseries: Staff and Children in Italy, Spain and the UK, Paul Chapman Publishing, 1997, p. 117.
A Journey into the Rights of Children, The Unheard Voice of Children series, Reggio Children, 1996.
Choosing to see children as the subject of rights rather than needs is a courageous
choice which extends also to the way in which children with special needs are regarded.
Fundamentally, in Reggio, such children are termed as having special rights. Reggio Emilia
employs a wholly inclusive policy where such children are included in all levels of mainstream
education. When a child with special rights is present in a particular class, that class is assigned
an extra educator, but crucially the educator is considered to be extra support for the whole
group and not just for the particular child. This decision is undoubtedly based on the central
belief in socio-constructivism as the vehicle for learning and understanding for everyone in the
learning group, be that educator or child.
By valuing children in this way educators put much more emphasis on really listening to
children. Indeed, the pedagogical basis of the whole Reggio approach has been called the
pedagogy of listening – listening being a metaphor for the educators’ attempt to gain as real an
understanding as possible of children and their learning processes. When our youngest children
are literally listened to and given the time and space to express themselves we are faced with
children capable of doing so in a much more complex and abstract way than children are
generally given credit for. This is something that is revealed in the Reggio schools through the
transcriptions of children’s in-depth conversations at a daily level.
Unlike other pedagogies that can be guilty of treating early infancy as a preparation for later
childhood and adulthood, and consequently seeing nursery education as a kind of antechamber
to later stages of formal education, the Reggio Approach considers early infancy to be a distinct
developmental phase in which children demonstrate an extraordinary curiosity about the
world. Indeed, the name of the schools, scuole dell’infanzia (schools of early childhood), does
not have the connotations of ‘preparation’ and ‘pre-ness’ inherent in the Anglo-American term
‘pre-school’. This image of the child has a fundamental and far-reaching effect on the learning
and teaching that takes place in the schools.
The Expressive Arts in the Pre-school: ‘The Hundred Languages’
The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking …
Loris Malaguzzi5
For a full reading of the poem see The Hundred Languages of Children, Catalogue of the Exhibition, Reggio Children, 1996.
One of the most interesting elements within the Reggio Approach is the central importance given
to the expressive arts as a vehicle for learning. Detailed drawing activities are a daily occurrence in
the schools and the outstanding standard of work produced by the children has become widely
acknowledged. Children are also encouraged to participate in a variety of expressive activities
such as sculpture, dramatic play, shadow play, puppetry, painting, dancing, music, ceramics,
construction and writing. The plethora of resources in the schools’ central atelier and the mini
atelier in each classroom, as well as the presence of a full-time atelierista in each pre-school
establishment, is testimony to the importance placed on this area of child development. Certain
topics such as ‘light and dark’ recur as stimuli for children’s learning, and teachers and children
have a wide variety of material and resources at their disposal. For such a theme children may
be given the opportunity to explore the effects of light and shadow using torches and light
tables. They may have the opportunity to draw with light by making holes in black card that is lit
from behind; they may be given the opportunity to create shadow stories using objects on an
overhead projector, stories in which they themselves can physically become a part.
Over the years, visitors from other countries have occasionally questioned the concentration
on the graphic languages over other subjects, for example music or expressive movement. It is
undoubtedly true that the startling detail and expressiveness in children’s drawings is a distinctive
feature of the approach but it has never been considered the most important. In recent years
the author has witnessed a tangible evolution in the development of other expressive languages
with children. This can be seen clearly in children’s work on many different projects such as the
work on expressive movement done at the Choreia pre-school establishment in conjunction
with the Aterballeto dance company and the outstanding exhibition of children’s work Dialoghi
con i luoghi which is currently on show in the new International Centre of Childhood. In recent
years new atelieristas entering the schools have brought new and different skills with them;
there are now atelierista who are dance or music specialists and this will undoubtedly have an
impact on the way in which the expressive arts develops in these schools.
Why stress the expressive arts over literacy and numeracy?
Consistent with the work on multiple intelligences6 by American psychologist Howard Gardner,
educators in Reggio Emilia are fully aware of the importance of developing all areas of learning
and understanding, not only the logical and linguistic. While literacy and numeracy activities
undoubtedly have their place in the daily activities of the pre-school establishments, teachers
believe strongly in the central role that the expressive arts have to play, for many reasons.
• They acknowledge the fact that very young children are extremely expressive, with an
enormous capacity for sharing feelings and emotion, and that imagination plays a key role in
the child’s search for knowledge and understanding.
Gardner, H., Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, NY: Basic Books, 1983.
• They are convinced of the overriding importance of the learning process rather than the
final product. Involvement in the expressive arts allows the children to revisit subjects of
interest over and over again through many different media to gain multiple perspectives
and a higher level of understanding.
• They are aware that, by concentrating too much on the development of the child’s verbal
and literary skills, teachers can covertly devalue the child’s skilled use of their many nonverbal languages (Malaguzzi talked of a hundred and a hundred more). The child’s capacity
to communicate through gestures, glances, emotion, dance, music, sculpture, painting,
story telling, scribed stories and many more is therefore greatly valued, and teachers strive
to develop these in the child.
• They believe strongly that the expressive arts can give children the opportunity to look at
and experience their world in many different ways. The children are encouraged to use
all their senses to seek a greater understanding; through observation, analysis and piecing
together what they experience, they dismantle and reassemble the original, creating a new
and individual whole. Synaesthetic activities (such as encouraging children to make pictorial
representations of smells or noises, for example) are a dominant feature and seek to give
children a fuller understanding of the world. As Vea Vecchi, atelierista at the Diana preschool establishment, states, ‘it is through the process of transformation that we become
closer to the very essence of life’.7
This is not a free journey but neither is it a journey with rigid timetables and
schedules; rather, it is akin to a journey guided by a compass.
Carlina Rinaldi8
Notoriously difficult to translate, the term progettazione is often understood to mean emergent
curriculum or child-centred curriculum, but the reality is far more complex. Reggio educators
talk of working without a teacher-led curriculum but this does not mean that forward thinking
and preparation do not take place. Rather, teachers learn to observe children closely, listen to
them carefully and give value to their own ideas so that they might gain an understanding of
what interests children most and create strategies that allow the children to build upon their
interests. Topics for study can come from the children themselves, from subjects that the
teacher knows naturally interest children and also from the family and the greater community.
Projects do not follow rigid timetables but rather meander slowly at the pace of the children.
Children may be involved in a specific project over a lengthy period of time but not every day;
rather, they return to it as their interests dictate, revisiting and re-evaluating what they learn.
Vecchi, V., ‘Children’s Expressive Languages’, lecture given at International Winter Institute, Reggio Emilia, January 1999.
Rinaldi, C., ‘The Pedagogy of Listening’, lecture given at International Winter Institute, Reggio Emilia, January 1998.
Children are the protagonists of their learning and are encouraged by teachers to develop
projects and solve problems among themselves, using the teacher as a tool who can ‘lend’
help, information and experience when necessary. Central to this mode of learning and
teaching is the development of reciprocal relationships of love and trust between adult and
child and between the children themselves. Learning always takes place within a group setting
because Reggio educators see interaction and the consideration of differing points of view
to be fundamental to the learning process. The building of such relationships and indeed the
development of such projects that can continue for days, weeks and sometimes the school
year, takes a great amount of time and cannot be constrained by school timetables or specialist
curricular lessons. Time, and how it is conceived, is therefore an important factor. Within the
nurseries, learning and teaching take place always at the pace of the child.
What is the role of the teacher in this type of learning process?
The role of the teacher in the learning–teaching relationship known as progettazione can be
summarised as follows.
• The teacher seeks to know each child as an individual person and to create a trusting
relationship in which learning can take place.
• The teacher strives to support and encourage the child on the learning journey,
encouraging them to reflect and to question. In this sense, the role of the teacher is not
to dispense information or simply to correct. Rather, the teacher is like a tool that the
children use when most needed. Sometimes they may observe; at other moments they
act as co-investigators or scribes. They may challenge or provoke ideas through the use
of open-ended questions and provocations of many kinds. Indeed, a fundamental stage in
progettazione is knowing how to relaunch an idea or concept with the children in a way
which provokes them into taking their understanding and experience to the next level.
• There is an enormous respect for children’s own theories and hypotheses. Allowing
children to make mistakes in their quest to solve problems is considered fundamental to
the learning process. Teachers are not quick to intervene at every problem the children
confront. Indeed, allowing children to travel along what the adult may consider ‘the wrong
path’ and encouraging the children to realise this autonomously is considered an important,
if controversial, learning strategy. Through close observation and evaluation of evidence, the
teacher learns to judge when intervention is most appropriate. It is only when time is taken to
build a close and trusting relationship with the children that the teacher can become confident
in this role. This remains one of the principal reasons for teachers and children remaining
together for the three-year duration.
• The teacher is also a researcher into the ways in which children learn. Indeed, the place of
ongoing research in the classroom has grown and developed significantly throughout the
years. While what is termed research in Reggio schools may not always be equated with
scientific research in tertiary educational establishments, there is no doubt as to the value of
the search for meaning and understanding that Reggio educators strive for. Carlina Rinaldi
has described the place of this research in the following way:
‘Research as a term capable of describing the straining to know which is activated
each time authentic processes of knowledge are created. Research to describe the
individual and common journey in the direction of new universes of possibility …’
Carlina Rinaldi9
As such the educator must observe the child’s learning process as closely as possible. By
observing, the teacher enters into a relationship with the child. Reggio educators spend a huge
amount of time observing children working in small groups in an attempt to come closer to the
children’s understanding. The process of observation is considered partial and subjective, hence
the need to observe and re-observe and to consider varying points of view.
Fundamental to the teacher’s role is the documentation of the child’s learning process.
Documentation, in terms of photographic and written wall panels placed at both adult and
child height, is a prominent feature of the schools and centres. However, when teachers
talk of creating documentation they mean something much more complex. It is important to
understand that documentation in terms of the Reggio Emilia Approach is a process which
takes place during the child’s learning. It is not something that is made after the child has finished
working. This has huge implications for the teacher’s role and for the path children’s learning is
encouraged to take. As educators observe, document and analyse children’s learning journeys,
they are able to make informed hypotheses about how to guide children in their learning. It
is obvious then that documentation is far removed from photographic displays of completed
project work.
Carlina Rinaldi offers the following explanation:
Documentation means to produce traces of an observation.
Documentation makes visible.
Documentation is for children, teachers, parents, society.
Documentation can give an image of the child …10
And again:
Documentation is a way of entering the dark zone; of understanding how we learn.
Documentation helps us to share the responsibility of teaching.11
And again, she states:
Documentation is this process, which is dialectic, based on affective bonds and also
poetic; it not only accompanies the knowledge-building process but in a certain sense
impregnates it.12
Reggio Children, Reggio Children (mission statement), Reggio Children, 2005, p. 14.
Rinaldi, C., ‘The Pedagogy of Listening’, lecture given during American Study Tour, Reggio Emilia, May 1998.
Rinaldi, C, ‘Documentation and Assessment: What is the Relationship?’ in Making Learning Visible: Children as Individual and Group Learners,
Project Zero and Reggio Children, 2001, p. 86.
• Because teachers at Reggio believe strongly in the partiality of any given opinion and
therefore in the necessity to share and discuss differing points of view, they use a variety
of means for the creation of documentation including audio and video recordings,
photographs, drawings and written notes. These are always transcribed, listened to again
and again, and shared with the co-teacher and indeed all the educators in school.
• It is through sharing and discussing documentation that teachers feel most able to interpret
and evaluate the learning process and to anticipate the most appropriate step to take with
the children. In this sense the documentation can be seen to represent an assessment of
the child’s learning while also providing opportunities for self-assessment as children revisit
their experiences. As the teachers revisit the documentation again and again they gain a
closer understanding of the child’s capabilities and possibilities. It is a fundamental belief
of the Reggio teachers that through documentation they are able to evaluate – or give
value – not simply to what the child can do but what the child could do, given the correct
opportunity. Progettazione therefore cannot be equated with a set curriculum of any sort as
learning does not develop in a linear manner and cannot be organised into complete ‘units’.
Rather, by building a trusting relationship with the child and accompanying and guiding them
on the path of their learning, by documenting their learning processes and giving value to all
the child’s possibilities, the teacher creates a reciprocal relationship of learning and teaching.
Progettazione is a metaphorical dance between teacher and child – a spiral
of knowledge.
Carlina Rinaldi13
Community and Parent–School Relationships
I’ve learned a lot of things from the infant-toddler centre and pre-school my
grandson has attended. They have made me feel alive because I have had to reflect
on those values that have always characterised my life … I feel the need to grow
with my grandson and this has given me a new outlook on life.
Luciano Gozzi, grandparent14
Reggio educators describe their approach to learning and teaching as a ‘pedagogy of
relationships’ as it is founded on the conviction that we learn through making connections
between things, concepts and experiences, and that we do so by interacting with other people
and with our surrounding environment. This is evident in the key role given to participation
at every level: both within school (between children and between children and adults) and
also outwith the school (between families and school and between the greater community
and school). Parent and Community Participation is one of the most distinctive features of the
Reggio Approach. Its central importance to the life of the school is highlighted in the Charter of
Rights, which includes a section on the rights of parents, and states:
Rinaldi, C, ‘The Pedagogy of Listening’, lecture given during American Study Tour, Reggio Emilia, May 1998.
Gozzi, L., in Fontanesi, G., ‘Grandparents at the Infant-toddler Centres and Pre-schools’, Rechild, No. 2, April 1998.
It is the right of parents to participate actively, and with voluntary adherence to
the basic principles, in the growth, care and development of their children who are
entrusted to the public institution.15
There are strong historical, political and cultural factors that render the idea of participation
particularly workable in this part of Italy.
As previously stated, the very first pre-school establishments, built in the immediate post-war
period, were quite literally built by the people. The Reggiani people have long been known
to advocate socialism, and during World War II organised resistance to the fascist regime was
particularly strong in this area.
Collectivity and co-operation remain important elements of Reggio Emilia and the EmiliaRomagna area of Italy in general. This is highlighted in economic terms by the continued
presence of economically viable agricultural and industrial co-operatives, in political terms by the
continued significant support for the Communist Parties and socially by the presence of a strong
‘group culture’. Reggio’s squares are often filled with men standing, talking in groups while
women shop in the market, and young people go out normally in large groups. Indeed, the
existence of the very many town squares throughout the town is testimony to the importance
of a meeting place, a place where discussion takes place and ideas are exchanged. Discussion is
very much part of the Italian way of life, and what may be considered a full-blown argument in
Britain may simply be a ‘healthy discussion’ in Italy. In many ways the evolution of the municipal
schools is a result of this culture, which continues to consider the welfare of young children as
the collective responsibility of the community and in which conflict and differing points of view
are regarded as essential aspects of learning.
This is an educational approach which has strong cultural roots not always easily understood
by people from other cultures or indeed from other parts of Italy. Equally, the changes in family
life mean that people generally have different expectations of schools and the services they
provide. In recent years the changing demographics and influx of immigrants into Reggio Emilia
and the rest of northern Italy has brought new challenges for the town in terms of participation.
The municipality has begun this year to take positive steps towards encouraging increased
participation from non-Italian families by working closely with families and with the schools’ citychildhood councils on developing a cultural mediation programme which includes formal and
informal meetings with families and the placing of cultural mediators in schools to work directly
with educators, families and children. The fundamental importance put on dialogue, discussion
and positive confrontation, however, both within the school system and in Reggiano culture
generally, means that the reciprocal relationship based on participation remains at the centre of
the Reggio Approach. In pedagogical terms the concept of participation remains a fundamental
part of the Reggio Approach, as Carlina Rinaldi explains:
A Journey through the Rights of Children, The Unheard Voice of Children series, Reggio Children, 1996.
… participation is an educational strategy that characterises our way of being
and teaching. Participation of the children, the teachers and the families, not only
by taking part in something but by being part of it, its essence, part of a common
identity, a ‘we’ that we give life to through participation.16
The development of strong links between the home and school encourages:
continuity in the children’s lives
the creation of a reciprocal network of communication
participation by all involved (children, teachers, parents, community) in the life of the school
feelings of ‘ownership’ by all involved.
How do parents and families participate in the life of the schools?
Participation is encouraged at various levels.
• Participation begins even before the children have started school, through a comprehensive
integration programme. This involves meetings between children, parents and teachers to
build an image of the child as an individual, and often involves the child doing a task such as
making a ‘holiday booklet’ of photographs and favourite nursery rhymes, etc., which can
be used as stimulus for discussion between child and teacher. Integration takes place over a
period of approximately one week and parent contact is gradually reduced so that the child
gains confidence in the new environment. The integration period is considered extremely
important, not only for the child but also for parents and teachers, as it is at this stage that a
relationship of collaboration and trust is built.
• Parents can also be asked to become directly involved in the observation and
documentation process of their child’s learning if the school thinks it would be valuable to
understand how the child acts in the home setting, so allowing teachers to build a more
complete image of the child. The parent may be asked to keep a journal, for example, and
take photographs that are then shared with teachers and with other parents in a group
setting. Meetings to discuss children’s learning experiences are frequent and tend to take
place in a group setting, reflecting Reggio educators’ belief in the group dynamic.
• At a daily level parents participate by interacting with educators and other parents when
going to collect their child at the end of the day. Reggio educators are always willing to
dedicate a surprising amount of time not only to speaking to parents but also, crucially,
to listening to them every day. Documentation also plays a key role in parents’ daily
participation in their children’s experiences by means of the daily agenda which is produced
for parents at the end of each day. It describes the activities children have been involved
in and over recent years it has become increasingly visual, with the widespread diffusion
of digital photography and scanning facilities. Parents are therefore able to see photos of
children interacting on the same day they were taken. This allows parents to enter into their
child’s experience and create meaningful dialogue with them and is very different from settings
which witness the use of closed-circuit television and direct internet access to pre-school
classrooms, and which contribute to what Carlina Rinaldi has termed ‘the culture of suspicion’.
Rinaldi, C., in Fontanesi, G., ‘Grandparents at the Infant-toddler Centres and Pre-schools’, Rechild, No. 2, April 1998.
• At a practical level, participation takes place in many different ways. Parents and
grandparents are encouraged to contribute to the upkeep of the buildings and gardens
by volunteering to repair furniture, paint surfaces and equipment, make and build toys
and equipment, and tend to gardens and play areas, in short volunteering any particular
experience they have. Their involvement is also encouraged through participation in school
outings and celebrations. Parties for particular family groups such as grandparents are often
held to celebrate the importance and uniqueness of these relationships.
• At a more theoretical level, parents are involved in the life of the schools through elected
membership of school councils known as Consiglio Infanzia-Città (city-childhood councils).
Members of the council are encouraged to participate in meetings held by the schools to
discuss policy concerns and educational matters. They do not take any part in the hiring of
staff or in the distribution of funds in the schools. Rather, they participate in many different
pedagogical projects. At the time of writing, for example, parents have been involved with
educators and pedagogistas in the rewriting of the Charter of Values for the institution which
now runs the municipal infant-toddler centres and pre-school establishments. Parents are
also involved in groups that deal with the refurbishment of school buildings and gardens.
Another group is presently working with cultural mediators on the development of a
cultural project which seeks to create dialogue between the many different cultures now
participating in the schools.
• One of the most interesting aspects of participation in the Reggio schools is the role the
schools play in adult learning. Crucial to participation in Reggio Emilia is the conviction
that parents are competent individuals in their own right who contribute to the social and
cultural growth of the school. This goes far beyond participation such as keeping parents
informed, or even encouraging involvement, but is rather participation in the form of
working co-operatively to create culture through the organisation of regular talks and
practical evenings where parents and families are given the opportunity to discuss various
topics, such as child health, diet, and the role of religion in education, with experts in the
field. Parents also have the opportunity to attend evenings run by the school cooks, who
explain and demonstrate how to prepare balanced meals for young children.
• Parents are also encouraged to take on the role of learner at research level. A good
example of this is the year-long work completed by groups of parents from many schools
on the theme of ‘Questions Facing Education’. The research culminated in a conference of
the same name that took place in 1998. As part of the conference four parents presented
papers on themes such as ‘Can We Teach Without Feelings?’ and ‘Education and Time:
Should We Fill the Day or Live It?’ to a large and varied audience. More recently parents
were involved in a long reflection and research process that brought about the writing of
the charter for the city-childhood councils.
When asked what participation means at a personal level parents responded in many ways.
Below are some of their answers.
• It is a search for opportunities for more profound exchange, confrontation and reflection so that we ourselves continue to grow as people.
• There is a need not to delegate our own child’s education.
• I see participation not just as personal, but also as social and cultural growth.
• Curiosity
The reciprocal relationships that exist between child, family, school and, indeed, community
are therefore far-reaching indeed. To talk of a ‘link’ between families and home is to undervalue
what actually takes place in Reggio. In reality it is not so much that families take part in the life
of the school but rather that, together with the children and the teachers, they are the school.
Paola Cagliari, Pedagogista of the municipal pre-school establishments, states this clearly when
she says:
No teacher, no pedagogista, no parent can have individually more ideas or better
ideas than those produced by a group that is in dialogue together. We are talking
of a new ethic of living together, which presupposes listening, welcoming and the
recognition of the other, whether that be an adult or a child.17
A Reggio pre-school is a special kind of place, one in which young human beings are
invited to grow in mind, in sensibility and in belonging to a broader community.
Jerome S Bruner18
The physical environment of the Reggio schools is one of the most well known aspects and
perhaps also one of the most misunderstood. It is a common misconception that to ‘do Reggio’
entails whitewashing walls and introducing mirrors, three-dimensional pyramids and light tables
into the nursery classroom. The reality is of course much more complex. We must ask why these
things are done in order to understand the significance of the environment in pedagogical terms.
Participation and collectivity, key ideas that permeate all areas of the Reggio Approach, are of
fundamental importance in considering the creation and use of the physical space of the school.
Rather than separate spaces being used for separate purposes, the schools are composed of
a series of connecting spaces that flow into one another. Rooms open onto a central piazza,
mirroring the central meeting places in the town, and children move freely through the space.
This type of openness is conducive to participation and interaction and to the general value of
openness to the many differences that children, teachers and community bring with them to
the schools – differences of race, religion, sex, language, culture.
Cagliari, P, ‘La Storia, Le Ragioni ed I Significati della Partecipazione’ in La Partecipazione: Valori, Significati, Problemi, Strumenti, I taccuini, No.
2, November 114. Series of publications published by Centro Documentazione e Ricerca Educativa. Comune di Reggio Emilia, 1994.
Bruner, J, in Ceppi, G and Zini, M (eds), Children, Spaces, Relations: Metaproject for an Environment for Young Children, Reggio Children,
1998, p. 137.
their learning paths. Furniture is designed to be multi-functional. Screens may be used to allow
children to create shadow pictures and stories while at the same time serving as a divider of
two spaces. Children are wonderful constructors and take delight in constructing and inhabiting
new places. No Reggio school looks the same at the end of the year as it did at the beginning.
The space must be conducive to research and autonomous discovery, both for individual
children and for groups of children working together. An enormous amount of attention and
effort goes into the design of furniture and organisation of space and materials to maximise the
ease of use by the children. The youngest children sleep in cocoon-like open-ended beds that
allow them to get in and out independently; art materials in both the central and mini ateliers
are in see-through containers so that children can easily find things on their own. Mirrors are
used in a variety of ways. They hang from the ceiling over changing tables, can be found at floor
level and form play apparatus in the form of pyramids that the children can enter to explore the
images they become part of. Children therefore gain an understanding of themselves in relation
to their surroundings, a belief that is central to the philosophy.
The importance of the aesthetic dimension for learning has already been explained. This is
very much in evidence in the schools’ physical make-up. These schools are multi-sensory
environments, and materials can be displayed in many ways and for different reasons,
encouraging children to look at shades and colours and consider how to use them, and to
consider textures and smells. These schools are not, however, painted in the bright primary
colours that many adults misconceive to be favoured by children. Instead there is a pervasive
feeling of light and space brought about by the use of light or white walls and the way in which
children’s artwork painted on transparent sheets creates interesting layering and diffused light,
and the way in which movable walls and wall-size windows allow the interior to integrate
with the outside environment. Perhaps again reflecting the centrality of the child and his or her
relationship with the school, it is the children themselves who contribute colour through their
clothing and belongings, their artwork and sculptures.
The outside environment is also an obvious source of colour and texture, and plants are widely
used in the classrooms as well as in interior courtyards. This also serves to create a natural link
between the inside and outside environments of the school. Fostering a link with the outside
environment is important because a school as a place of learning and discovery cannot be
seen to be an island. Rather, within the school children learn how to become full and active
participants in the greater, outside environment. A school must nourish an understanding
of what is happening ‘on the outside’. Outside play areas and equipment are very much in
evidence, occasionally forming a physical link between inside and outside, perhaps in the form
of canopies and verandas. Through the use of child-built installations such as the Amusement
Park for Birds at the Villetta pre-school establishment, the outside becomes a learning centre
where children can learn about the elements and physical forces.
It should be said that while there is much evidence of merging indoors and outdoors and
bringing the outdoors in, the use of outdoor space in the Reggio Emilia schools is perhaps
not as exemplary as one might imagine, considering the favourable climate compared to
Scotland, for example. There are undoubtedly cultural reasons for this. Children spend the
majority of time indoors during the winter months, even on dry days, largely due to protests
from parents that the damp weather is bad for the children. Italian children are always heavily
dressed throughout the winter. Consequently outdoor spaces have not always been used
as imaginatively as they could be or to their best advantage. However, this is an issue that
Reggio educators are very aware of and indeed at the time of writing steps are being taken
to look closely at outdoor education and playground culture. The results of this project will
undoubtedly have interesting implications at both local and international levels.
The physical environment of the schools is therefore much more than a simple container for
learning and teaching. Rather, the environment can be seen to be a central component of
the learning and teaching relationship. Indeed, it is easy to see why Reggio educators call the
environment ‘the third teacher’.
Teachers as Learners
Good staff development is not something that is undertaken every now and then,
reflecting only on the words of someone else. Instead, it is a vital and daily aspect
of our work, of our personal and professional identities. Staff development is seen
above all as an indispensable vehicle by which to make stronger the quality of our
interaction with children and among ourselves.
Carlina Rinaldi19
Although initial teacher education in Italy was meagre until 1998, with pre-school and
elementary teachers needing only the minimum of qualifications, recent national legislation
now requires all new pre-school and primary school teachers to be qualified to degree level,
although this is not yet the case for educators in the infant-toddler centres. The development of
the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in the centre of town in recent years has included
the establishment of the Faculty of Education, which fosters direct links with the municipal preschool establishments and infant-toddler centres. Indeed, Carlina Rinaldi, former pedagogista
and consultant for Reggio Children, now has teaching commitments with the Faculty of
Education. While Reggio educators have long demonstrated their belief in the central place of
research in the pre-school setting (for example with projects such as Making Learning Visible
in conjunction with Howard Gardner’s Project Zero at Harvard University), Italian university
research has been a lot slower in recognising the work that is done in these schools. It will be
interesting to see how this new link develops in coming years.
The municipal education system 0–6 has long been recognised for its outstanding and
exemplary approach to the continuing professional development of all educators. Continuing
professional development is not about developing teachers’ understanding of how to teach
but about developing their understanding of how children learn. Teachers are encouraged to
understand children’s learning processes rather than acquiring skills and knowledge that they
then expect children to learn. Research is a fundamental learning strategy for children in the
Reggio schools and this is mirrored in the approach to the role of the educator in the learning
process and to professional development. Teachers are seen as learners first and foremost.
Professional development in Reggio is considered to be a continuing evolutionary process that
is an intrinsic part of the teacher’s day. At its heart is the belief in staff development as change;
staff development as promoting participation and interaction.
Co-teachers are given ring-fenced time daily to discuss and evaluate the day’s work, attempting
to interpret the children’s learning processes but also evaluating their own role and working
together to predict possible learning paths. A constant dialogue of opinion is created in the joint
analysis and interpretation of documentation. The fact that two teachers work together with a
group of children for three years means that a very close professional bond develops between
co-teachers. It is a bond in which particular talents and strengths are shared and where new
teachers have the opportunity to learn from more experienced colleagues.
Rinaldi, C, in Katz, L and Cesarone, B (eds), Reflections on the Reggio Emilia Approach, Edizioni Junior, 1994, pp. 47–50.
Once a week, teachers are given time to come together as a group so that they can share
their analyses and hypotheses with the rest of the staff, including the school’s atelierista and
the pedagogista (a pedagogical adviser who works closely with teachers from a group of local
schools). The key to these meetings is dialogue. As with the children they teach, conflict of
ideas and opinions is considered to be not only a positive contributor to learning but also a
fundamental factor. Project work is discussed and there is a continual exchange of reflections
and of opinions. Teachers are given the opportunity to use a variety of documentary media in
communicating their work with colleagues.
Through the pedagogista, teachers have the opportunity to meet with colleagues from different
schools within the town to share their experiences and discuss the learning that is taking place
in their schools. Professional development also takes other forms. Through close relationships
with parents at individual, group and school meetings that seek to share the children’s creative
and learning processes, teachers become increasingly aware of the importance of listening and
of considering differing viewpoints. Reggio educators also believe strongly that teachers must
be individuals who, like the children they work with, are naturally curious about the world they
live in and about learning generally. While much time is given to ensuring that teachers have the
opportunity to become competent in the various artistic activities that they wish to share with
the children, the emphasis is not simply on the acquisition of skills but rather on encouraging
teachers to think in different ways and to consider different viewpoints so that they might best
respond to the children’s spontaneous learning. Teachers are therefore given the opportunity
to meet and talk with people living and working outside the boundaries of education such as
scientists, musicians, writers, architects and poets.
As with other key aspects of the Reggio Approach, within its commitment to continuing
professional development there are values of collegiality, interaction and participation. This
is perhaps most evident in the absence of a hierarchical staff structure in the schools, the
complete lack of externally imposed policies, manuals or curriculum guidelines, and the fact that
goals for professional development are determined by the teachers themselves.
Undoubtedly, there is much that we can learn from Reggio educators: in particular, true
collaboration between all parties involved in the children’s learning and in the life of the schools;
detailed documentation of children’s learning processes; the importance of the environment in
learning; the unique way in which expressive arts are used as a stimulus for all areas of learning;
excellent professional development. All of these deserve careful consideration in our early
years classrooms.
However, while there is much we may wish to take on board, we need to be cautious in
attempting to replicate the Reggio Approach in our own early years settings. There is a sense in
which the Reggio Approach is not directly transferable.
• The Reggio Approach is not a teaching method that can easily be copied but rather an
approach that varies from school to school according to the adults and children who give it
identity. It is an approach that is not static but continues to grow and evolve.
• The values and beliefs intrinsic to the pedagogical approach are so much a part of the wider
cultural context that is the town of Reggio Emilia and its people that to attempt somehow
to drop the educational approach into a very different social and cultural setting would be
damaging to the new culture’s existing good practice and to the integrity of the Reggio
Approach itself. There is a real sense that if these schools are part of the town then the
town is also a fundamental part of the schools.
It is a mistake to take any approach and assume like a flower you can take it from
one soil and put it in another one. That never works. We have to figure out what
aspects of that are most important to us and what kind of soil we need to make
those aspects grow.
Howard Gardner20
There are also practical issues that need careful consideration.
• The Reggio Approach has evolved gradually over a period of more than 40 years. We
could not therefore hope to replicate its achievements immediately.
• Reggio educators are of the conviction that this pedagogical approach only works once
all the various contributing factors are firmly in place. If this is true, it makes adoption a
momentous task.
• The Reggio schools receive significant funding from local government, which allows
them considerable power and autonomy. It also allows them to build purpose-built, stateof-the-art schools.
Gardner, H, ‘Complementary perspectives on Reggio Emilia’ in Edwards, C, Gandini, L and Forman, G (eds), The Hundred Languages of
Children, Ablex Publishing, 1993.
• Reggio’s infant-toddler centres and pre-school establishments represent a network of
mutual support and learning. As the Scottish system is a much more diverse mixture of
local authority and private and voluntary sector provision, with responsibility for early
education held by education or children’s services or children and families departments,
such a network is more difficult to sustain.
While direct replication of the Reggio Approach would be both difficult and ill advised, the
approach can undoubtedly serve as a stimulus for much needed change within our own
system. Without attempting to copy, we can, in the words of Carlina Rinaldi, seek to translate
what we learn from Reggio educators.
Reflecting on Current Practice
The first step that practitioners must take in translating any new educational philosophy or
approach is to reflect on current practice. The Scottish CCC document Teaching for Effective
Learning states that:
… reflecting on what we, as individuals truly want to achieve in our job
is an important starting point for identifying personal and professional
development needs.21
We must also recognise the danger of throwing out what is good simply for the sake of new
trends. Reflection should take place not only at practitioner level but also at policymaking level.
Teachers bound by the constraints of target setting and an ever increasing number of externally
imposed mandates will have difficulty in reflecting on personal practice.
Encouragingly, the British systems hold certain beliefs common to the Reggio Approach.
A Curriculum for Excellence reminds us that:
… the educational process itself is changing. There is growing understanding of the
different ways in which children learn and how best to support them … There is now
an opportunity to recognise fully the talents and contributions of the growing range of
adults currently involved in educating our children, and to reflect the growing role of
the school as a partner with parents, other providers of services for children, colleges
and other organisations, and the community.22
The curriculum must develop and change so that it continues to meet the needs of
our young people. There will be a continuing cycle of evaluation, refreshment and
renewal, taking account of developments in technologies for learning and in our
knowledge and understanding.23
Scottish CCC, Teaching for Effective Learning, SOEID, 1997.
Scottish Executive, A Curriculum for Excellence: Report of the Curriculum Review Group, Scottish Executive, 2004, p. 10.
Scottish Executive, A Curriculum for Excellence: Ministerial Response, Scottish Executive, 2004, p. 10.
A Curriculum for Excellence challenges us to achieve this aim by establishing clear values,
purposes and principles for education 3–18 in Scotland. At the time of writing this work has
just begun.
Equally, the document A Curriculum Framework for Children 3–5 states the following:
The vital contribution of pre-school education lies in developing and broadening
the range of children’s learning experiences, to leave them confident, eager and
enthusiastic learners who are looking forward to school. (p. 1)
Young children come to early years settings as active, experienced learners with a
natural curiosity. They are unique individuals eager to make sense of their world, to
develop relationships and to extend their skills. (p. 3)
The early years setting should be a place where all of the children’s senses are
engaged and stimulated. (p. 31)
To promote effective learning in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect adults
need to be consistent and realistic in their expectations and their responses to
children. Developing warm, supportive relationships with children and other adults
creates a climate in which children feel confident to tackle new challenges and where
children can see mistakes as part of the learning process. (p. 44) 24
The above quotations highlight the importance that Scottish policy gives to the child as
an individual, to the centrality of the child in his or her own learning experience and to
developmentally appropriate practice. Scottish educators are also becoming increasingly aware
of the importance of documentation and evaluation as intrinsic parts of the learning experience
and of the importance of positive relationships with parents. Clearly, it is the extent to which
these values and beliefs have been developed and the strong correlation between theory and
practice in the Reggio schools that is so exemplary. Although in Scotland we have recognised
the importance of early childhood as a key period in human development, and the importance
of early years education, we have been increasingly in danger of valuing early childhood and
early years education principally as a stepping stone to formal education and to adulthood.
• Are our early years education services there simply to prepare children for primary,
secondary and tertiary education?
• Is early years education simply a way of ensuring that we furnish society with the necessary
skills to provide social and economic stability?
• In short, is early years education little more than an antechamber for something more
Scottish CCC, A Curriculum Framework for Children 3–5, The Scottish Office, 1999.
Good practice in Scotland, as in Reggio Emilia, emphasises the importance of early childhood as
a period of phenomenal growth and rapid development but also as a unique period filled with
joy and wonderment. It demonstrates that early years education is about stimulating learning
and experience, about giving voice to the child and about celebrating early childhood as a highly
important period in its own right.
Early childhood is the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives.
But it is not just a preparation for adolescence and adulthood: it has an importance
in itself. 22
Carlina Rinaldi suggests that we reflect upon the following:
What do we hope for children?
What do we expect from children?
What is the relationship between school and research?
What is the relationship between school and education?
What is the relationship between school, family and society?
What is the relationship between school and life?
Is school a preparation for or a part of life? 26
Teachers in the municipal pre-school establishments are firmly committed to the provision of
early years education as a fundamental right of every child. Currently little research has been
done into the effect of the Reggio Approach on children’s subsequent learning experiences
although anecdotal evidence from primary school teachers suggests that the children are
particularly adept socially, verbally and artistically. However, to consider translating the Reggio
Approach simply as some form of early intervention programme is to misunderstand and to do
injustice to the values and beliefs underlying the approach.
The following issues integral to the Reggio Approach are of particular interest to the
Scottish system:
physical features
partnership with parents
the role of the adult
initial teacher training and professional development.
While these issues should ideally be considered holistically and interdependently, certain issues
may prove of particular interest to individuals, schools and professionals. For this reason they
are worth looking at individually although it should be noted that they are generally interrelated.
Ball, C, Start Right: The Importance of Early Learning, Royal Society of Arts, 1994.
Rinaldi, C, ‘The Image of the Child’, lecture given at British Study Tour, Reggio Emilia, April 1999.
Physical Features
For many educators first faced with the challenges of the Reggio Approach the physical features
of the school environment represent the most obvious point of reference. Some find the
beauty of the physical environment, the amount of space, the state-of the-art furnishings and
the outside facilities inspiring, while others find them daunting and overwhelming, feeling that
they are impossible to recreate. While we can learn much from the way in which the space is
organised we must be careful not to exaggerate its importance. The inclusion of mirrors and
specially produced furniture does not create the Reggio Approach. Currently in Scotland some
new early years centres are being built as part of the Scottish Executive initiative to improve
school buildings and we can learn much by reflecting on how space is used in the Reggio
schools and why it is used in that way.
The use of space is linked to the commitment to the image of the child as a capable, resourceful
being, and to the belief that all learning must start with the child. Once the adults involved
move their focus from how to teach the child to being concerned with how the child learns,
then the way in which space needs to be organised must also change. The teacher no longer
considers how to use the space to enable her to teach but how the space can be used by all
concerned to create valuable learning experiences. The focus therefore moves from the adult
to the group.
In considering the organisation of our nurseries it might be helpful to consider Vea Vecchi’s
suggestions on how a school environment should be organised. 27
The environment should:
• encourage autonomous thought and encourage and maintain action
• encourage communication between children and also with adults
• enable relational exchanges in a variety of contexts and situations. Children constantly search for
new relationships with peers and adults. Children of different ages will use space differently to
do so. The older children seek out the more secluded parts of the rooms and spaces.
• create a variety of stimuli for the imagination. Young children are particularly attracted to
narrative, creating stories, becoming part of imaginary situations and copying real life
through role-play. They need the freedom of space to do so. The simplest of objects can
provide stimuli. The children’s narratives are not confined to specific areas or corners.
Given the opportunity, children create new, temporary environments autonomously. A
piece of coloured cloth on the floor becomes a particular place; a beam of artificial light
projected in a certain way defines the boundaries of a place. In this way children can create
‘space within space’.
• encourage a number of differing sensory experiences
• provide for privacy and quiet opportunities. Children of all ages need space to rest and relax.
They might choose a separate room that is dimly lit or they might choose to hide under a
table or behind a curtain.
27 Vecchi, V, ‘What kind of place for living well in a school?’ in Ceppi, G and Zini, M (eds), Children, Spaces, Relations: Metaproject for an
Environment for Young Children, Reggio Children, 1998, pp. 128–135
If our educational philosophies and practice are to evolve through time then no one
environment remains constantly suitable. For this reason, nursery schools built in Reggio
continue to be adapted over time. While the Diana school has been given the accolade of one
of the best schools in the world, it has changed significantly in the past 30 years. Remodelling
has taken place, mini ateliers have been added within classrooms, spaces have been partitioned
with glass walls and a central piazza created. Now in 2006 the school is about to undergo
further changes and developments as educators feel the ever growing need for more space.
These are all changes considered necessary after a long examination of how the children use
the spaces they have. As many Scottish nursery schools are housed in accommodation that
is not purpose-built it might be helpful to consider an example of one such school in Reggio
Emilia: the Otello Sarzi Infant-toddler Centre, which is in the very heart of the town centre.
The infant-toddler centre is on the second floor of what was once an office block and now
houses – along with the infant-toddler centre – the town’s community-run family centre, the
workshops of Mario Dolci (the puppeteer who works closely with the children in the Reggio
pre-school establishments and toddler centres), the municipal schools video centre and a
number of artists’ studios.
While the accommodation may be considered less desirable than a purpose-built centre,
educators have given careful consideration to the space available, and changes have been made
with outstanding results. A large window giving a wonderful vista over the town has blocked
off a disused entrance and staircase. The staircase and entrance have therefore become a small
stage and amphitheatre that the children use for a variety of purposes. Also, although being on
the second floor of a building might normally restrict children from being able to run directly
outside, this has been challenged by building an outside walkway that leads directly off one
classroom and joins with another at the opposite end of the school. The centre of the walkway
widens to form a large play area furnished with outdoor play equipment. This ingenious
structure not only serves as the ‘piazza’ or meeting place that it was not possible to make inside
the school, but also serves to create a feeling of circularity and continuity within the school as
both ends of the building are linked together and with the outside.
Within the classrooms the space continues to be used imaginatively and with careful
consideration. These classrooms are particularly spacious, highlighted by a combination of
natural and artificial lighting. The children’s beds are stored behind curtains and partitions that in
turn become projection screens or part of a backdrop for children’s constructions and shadow
play. Storage boxes are arranged to provide seating in the assembly area. Rather than creating
a specific hideaway as can be found in many of the schools, the teachers here, after careful
consideration, have chosen not to do so, allowing children to find their own, perhaps more
imaginative, places. Curtains, corners, and spaces beneath work surfaces all become hideaways
for children who need some quiet time. The mirror pyramid that has become a symbol
of Reggio schools might be a house, a bed or a boat. While the linear layout of the school
prevents the inclusion of a central piazza, open doorways create a flowing environment and
teachers work closely to ensure that children are given many opportunities to mix with children
from other classrooms. Indeed, in schools such as the Otello Sarzi Centre, where the teachers
and children have had to think carefully about how to use space that does not necessarily
fit easily with their educational approach, there is a sense in which the philosophy actually
becomes more visible and a very special ‘culture of inhabitance’ and unique identity is created.
On entering the Reggio schools one of the most striking aspects is the obvious lack of clutter.
While large amounts of space may be given over to children’s large constructions, there is very
little in the way of commercial toys. Neither are these nurseries overly dressed with carpets
and curtains. Instead importance is given to light and space. Although specific corners familiar
to British nurseries, such as the home corner, sand play area and water area, are present in the
Reggio environment, they are not available on an everyday basis. In this respect alone we can
learn much from Reggio educators. The danger in putting out the water tray every day is that
we cease to reflect on why we do so.
Questions to reflect upon
• Do we place enough importance on the use of space in our curriculum organisation/
• In making decisions about the use of space to what extent do we take account of how the
children naturally use the space?
• Is the adult’s use of space also taken into consideration?
• How can the organisation of space help to create a genuine living and working
environment for which the child feels responsible?
In many ways, for those considering the adaptation of all areas of the Reggio Approach one
of the most important issues for consideration is time. We must consider how we make use
of time in practical terms but we must also give consideration to time in philosophical terms.
Time, and how children and adults use it, is central to the Reggio philosophy. The rhythm
and pace of the child is always given overriding importance. It is given enormous value. In the
words of a parent of a Reggio child, we must:
… take possession of time as a value, not only as a means or an end. [We must]
find and give back meaning to time.
Reggio Parent28
This means recognising that children’s rhythms differ from those of adults.
• This means understanding that learning takes place when the adult–child relationship is not
constrained by adult-imposed time restrictions.
• This means really having time for children’s thoughts and ideas, and giving value to their
work, their conversations and their feelings by slowing down to listen to them.
Bertolini, A, ‘L’Educazione e il Tempo: Tempi della Famigilia e Tempi dei Bambini. Riempire la Giornata o Viverla?’, lecture given at
conference entitled ‘Le Domande dell’Educare Oggi’, Reggio Emilia, May 1998.
• This means making the learning relationship between children and between adults and
children the priority by constantly reflecting on our experiences with them.
In other words in daily educational practice we tend to give importance to a way of life that leans
more towards slowness, by that we mean towards reflection and observation.29
• This means giving value to the various moments of the school day not given to planned
activity time. We must be careful not to fill the children’s day and to recognise the
importance of moments of reflection, rest, and being together in children’s lives.
Not only play and educational experience form the connective tissues of these schools, but
also the pauses: eating together, sleeping at school, having moments and space
for being able to be apart from all the others as well as for staying together with all the
other children.30
Obviously the practical implications in introducing a more reflective way of learning and
teaching are many.
• We can concentrate on quality rather than quantity. Children need not experience a large
number of different educational experiences in one day but rather should be given the
time and space to develop learning in depth. The Curriculum Framework is helpful in this
aspect, stating that
Planning should be flexible so that it can take account of children’s ideas and
responses to learning experiences and allow learning to develop spontaneously.31
• Working with children in small groups means reconsidering how adults divide their time
both between children and with other staff. It can be legitimate for one adult to work
with a small group while other adults work with the rest. Does equal sharing mean that
we always need to divide numbers equally? Scottish early years settings generally have a
more favourable staff–child ratio than Reggio schools, which allows for small-group work if
teachers’ time is carefully considered.
• Progettazione, which encourages children to learn through shared discovery and through
revisiting experiences, necessitates a great deal of unrestricted time. How does that fit with
current curriculum principles?
• Detailed documentation obviously necessitates time that is not spent in direct teaching. It
might be pertinent to reconsider how staff are organised and how adults can best divide their
time so that more time can be made for documentation. Different types of documentation
would need to be considered. There is a sense in which a photograph can record much
more than time-consuming note taking. It is also important to remember that only the most
valuable learning experiences should be documented, not everything that moves!
30 Bertolini, A, ‘L’Educazione e il Tempo: Tempi della Famigilia e Tempi dei Bambini. Riempire la Giornata o Viverla?’, lecture given at
Conference entitled ‘Le Domande dell’Educare Oggi’, Reggio Emilia, May 1998.
31 Scottish CCC, A Curriculum Framework for Children 3–5, The Scottish Office,1999, p. 34.
• If effective continuing professional development is to be valued, then more time for this
purpose is fundamental. Reggio teachers have an average of six hours’ non-contact time a
week for this purpose. This has obvious implications for policy makers, for staffing and for
school budgets.
Questions to reflect upon
• How do we take account of how children learn in curriculum planning?
• Is there a flexible approach to the curriculum that allows children the time to pursue
particular interests?
• Should practitioners be rethinking the ‘how’ of their interactions with children?
• In organising the daily routine should the approach to working with children be more about
their needs and interests than about an adherence to working with set numbers?
• Are our early childhood settings too busy?
• Is adequate consideration given during the curriculum planning process to the time that
children require to be reflective about their own learning?
• Can time be organised in ways that increase adults’ opportunities to be more reflective
about the children and their own practice?
The belief in collaboration, collegiality and relationships pervades the Reggio educational
philosophy. Much of this is an extension of a much larger cultural context that deserves careful
consideration. Indeed, the idea of schools functioning successfully without any inherent
hierarchical management structure is so foreign to our highly structured society that it is almost
unimaginable. However, true collaboration between teachers and between school and society
is undoubtedly a way of thinking that represents a very positive example to other communities
and is one that it would be wise to act upon.
• We must beware of simple co-ordination rather than real collaboration. The organisation
and clear division of work is not the same as true collaboration that involves listening to
others, considering varying points of view, helping one another for the good of the school
as community.
• We must recognise and give value to the varying and particular strengths of different
workers within the hierarchical structure of our schools.
• We must make increased opportunities for the exchange of ideas between early childhood
professionals, harnessing the benefits of information and communications technology (ICT)
since there can be a tendency for people working in this sector, as in any other, to become
isolated and absorbed in their own practices and routines. Hearing the ideas and opinions of
other colleagues in a spirit of ‘learning together’ informs everybody’s practice and can be a
rich and stimulating resource from which practitioners can draw great strength and support.
• Focusing on the children’s learning experiences and how they can be best developed
rather than on the teacher’s teaching makes it easier to cope with criticism and to avoid
defensive reaction to suggestions and change. The Curriculum Framework recognises the
importance of discussing observations with other members of staff. By setting aside time
each day or week for formal and informal discussion we give increased value both to the
children’s learning and to the work done by the professionals involved. We also increase
opportunities to learn from one another.
Questions to reflect upon
• Do we place enough importance on making opportunities to talk to and listen to other
• Could staff development options be considered more in terms of staff sharing best practice
ideas and developing an action research model?
• The mixed economy of qualifications and expertise within early childhood settings can
result in some staff being more valued then others. How are we attempting to address this
issue within our own setting(s)?
• How would a national framework of qualifications help the early years sector in this regard?
• What would be the most appropriate forum for co-operative discussion and action in your
Partnership with Parents
The importance of the parents’ role in early childhood education has been given increasing
recognition in Scotland in recent years. Many schools now encourage parents to become
involved in school life in a variety of ways, not just by fundraising and accompanying children on
school trips, but through increased dialogue with teaching staff about children’s progress and
development, both at home and at school.
Unlike in Reggio, parents are also encouraged in certain schools to become involved in the
classrooms, working directly with the children. Reggio educators are firm in their conviction that
casual parental involvement in the classroom can upset routines and disturb children’s learning.
Nevertheless, this remains a very positive aspect of the Scottish school set-up and may be
something that Reggio educators could learn from us.
The relationship that exists between school and parents in Reggio is certainly very special and
has some serious implications for the Scottish system.
• An equal trusting relationship between parents and teachers cannot be forced. It takes time and
effort from both sides to create it. Partnership involves mutual involvement and mutual respect.
• By increasing the information we empower parents to ask sensitive questions about the
day’s events. It is difficult for parents to become involved if they are unsure of what is going
on! In the cloakroom area of many Reggio schools can be generally found a basic outline of
the week’s projected activities, a written account of the day’s completed activities, which
often includes quotations of children’s remarks, and examples of the artwork produced by
the children along with photographs. There may also be a detailed written account of the
ongoing project.
Personal contact remains fundamental to the creation of true partnership. Staff can take
time to greet each child and their parent as they arrive in school each morning. This is
easiest in the early years setting particularly as the arrival time may be staggered. It may
prove more problematic in the primary setting where even the youngest children may
arrive alone by public transport.
Teachers often remark that parents are reluctant to become involved in Scottish schools.
While there are undoubtedly cultural reasons for this, schools are now doing much to
encourage more active involvement.
Where people have a great deal of pride in something they become increasingly willing
to be involved. In a sense the easiest way to encourage parents’ interest in school life is
to make it more interesting. Children who talk enthusiastically about the day’s activities
encourage parents to ask interesting questions. A parent faced with photographs of their
child deeply involved in the creation of an interesting piece of artwork will want to discuss it
with their child, look at the work and talk with the teacher.
By recognising that parents are able to contribute to the school services as well as receiving
the services they desire, teachers give value to the role of the parent in their children’s
learning and often will find that parents are very willing to be involved. The involvement
of non-Italian parents in the collation of a book of international nursery rhymes in one of
the Reggio schools is one such example of the small ways in which parents can share their
differing experiences with the school.
Questions to reflect upon
• How is day-to-day contact made with families?
• How are families encouraged to contribute to the life of the school?
• In organised activities are parents encouraged to take a lead or are they simply expected
to attend?
• What means can we use to encourage contact and create relationships with parents who
are unable to make frequent visits to the school?
• Is partnership the model we should be aiming for in establishing relationships with parents?
Non-Italian educators faced with the Reggio Approach are often wary of progettazione, as it
seems to be simply a return to the child-led philosophies popular in the past and because they
feel increasingly constrained by the need to implement an ever fuller curriculum. However, the
following points should be noted.
• It is important to remember that the Reggio Approach is not a philosophy that centres
completely on the child. It is one that takes into consideration the needs of both adults
and children involved in the reciprocal learning relationship. Indeed, rather than talking of
a child-centred or an emergent relationship, it is perhaps more suitable to talk of it being
‘child originated and teacher framed’.32
• The Scottish system is not bound by a national curriculum that puts heavy constraints on what
or how children learn. Rather, the evolving A Curriculum for Excellence, whose aspiration is
that all children should become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens
and effective contributors, is underpinned by the principles of challenge and enjoyment,
breadth, progression, depth, personalisation and choice, coherence and relevance.
• A Curriculum Framework for Children 3–5 represents flexible guidelines that emphasise
children’s central role in their own learning and describes the curriculum as ‘planned
experiences based on different aspects of children’s development and learning’. In this
sense it is close to the Reggio philosophy, as it is not designed to be a rigid checklist of
learning outcomes.
• Like the Reggio Approach, the Curriculum Framework emphasises the key importance of
fostering positive relationships and of emotional, personal and social development generally.
Questions to reflect upon
How do we take account of the four capacities (successful learners, confident individuals,
responsible citizens and effective contributors) of A Curriculum for Excellence in planning and
supporting children’s learning?
• In planning for a breadth of experiences across the curriculum, how do we take account
of depth?
• Do we allow children time to engage fully with their topic or line of enquiry?
• How can we create a context in which children’s interests and curiosities are listened to
and legitimised?
• How do we ensure that all children experience an appropriate level of challenge?
The Role of the Adult
The role of the adult in the Reggio Approach to children’s learning is crucial. In a sense it
represents the greatest challenge to Scottish educators. If the adult’s main role is that of
facilitator then he or she must seek to provide a climate of encouragement for the children who
are given the opportunity to make hypotheses and take risks on their learning paths. This does
not mean giving children complete freedom but rather creating an ordered environment in
which children are free to explore and ‘learn through purposeful, well planned play’.33
Forman, G and Fyfe, B, ‘Negotiated Learning Through Design, Documentation and Discourse’ in Edwards, C, Gandini L and Forman, G
(eds), The Hundred Languages of Children, 2nd edn, Ablex Publishing, 1998, pp. 239–260.
Scottish Executive, A Curriculum for Excellence: Ministerial Response, Scottish Executive, 2004, p. 3.
Consideration needs to be given to the following.
• Children will create their most interesting and imaginative work when they have a wide and
varied choice of material and resources at hand. It is the educator’s role to provide these
in a discerning manner and to organise and display them in a manner that is both functional
and attractive to the child. The types of suitable materials are limitless – shells, beads,
stones, pulses, seeds, clay, paper, cardboard, wood, etc. all have tremendous possibilities
for pictorial work and construction work. Giving children the opportunity to select material
encourages more interesting and individual work.
• It is not simply a case of laying everything out in front of children and giving them free
rein. Teachers should make discerning choices about appropriate materials and learning
experiences. Is it necessary, for example, for children to use the sandbox or the water tray
every day?
• Children who become involved in a learning experience should be given the opportunity
to continue with it for as long as they need. Teachers need to find ways of making space for
work in progress rather than simply telling children to clear up at the end of the day.
• It takes time to build confidence in our own capacity to give children the lead in their
learning experience and this aspect of the Reggio Approach may prove problematic for
teachers used to directing learning activities. Clearly this has implications for initial teacher
training, continuing professional development and in-service training.
• Part of the philosophy that is progettazione is the belief that being confused is a fundamental
part of the learning process. Teachers therefore may choose, when they feel it is
appropriate, to allow children to go down the wrong path and to let them make ‘mistakes’
without intervening. Some educators find this to be an unnecessarily lengthy process and
others feel it may even be unfair to the children. We must reflect upon how such ideas
correspond with our own way of thinking.
• The Reggio experience suggests that very young children are able to remain engaged
in projects for a much longer period of time and at a deeper level than is generally
recognised. The level of graphic work produced by these children suggests that they are
more able than often realised to represent their ideas, projections and emotions in this
manner. This would suggest that we are seriously underestimating our children.
• We must maintain high expectations for children’s learning and find ways of demonstrating
to them that we take their work seriously. There are strong links between adult
expectations and children’s aspirations and performance. Children very quickly sense what
adults hold to be of real importance. Talking with children rather than to them about their
work is fundamental. In the nursery setting in particular, although sending finished artwork
home is undoubtedly an important way of encouraging a link between school and home
environments, it is not always appropriate. By retaining work in school and using it with the
children to revisit learning experiences, we demonstrate that we put importance on their
work as well as their thoughts and feelings.
• While some interesting initiatives are under way, those working in early years settings in
Scotland, for the most part, are unable to count on the expertise of an atelierista. If the
expressive arts are to play a more central role in all of children’s learning experiences then
clearly teachers must be given the opportunity to gain experience and confidence in using
the various media they wish to use with children. This can be made possible through
regular practical workshops, genuine teamwork within schools where teachers can share
particular skills with colleagues and also by inviting specialists into schools to work with both
teachers and children.
Questions to reflect upon
What expectations do we have for the children in our settings?
Children are capable people. Does our approach to them reflect this?
How would you define the adult’s role in relation to the children’s learning?
To what extent do children play a lead role in their own learning?
How effectively are the adults engaging with the children both as companions and as
fellow learners?
Scottish teachers are generally aware of the importance of recording children’s progress using
a variety of means for all areas of the curriculum. The collation and organisation of individual
pupil profiles is one such example. In Reggio, the documentation of children’s learning is
undoubtedly one of the most outstanding features of the approach. How therefore can the
Reggio experience help us build on existing good practice?
• It is important to remember that recording and documenting children’s finished products is
not necessarily the most helpful way to understand children. We must seek to document
the children’s cognitive learning processes. What makes Reggio documentation so unique
is the fact that it is compiled and analysed during the learning process rather than simply
looking at it at the end of a project.
• Documentation is only useful to children, teachers and parents if it is constantly revisited
and time is given to reflection and discussion of it.
• Documenting is much more than showing and displaying children’s work on the wall. It
must create a greater understanding of children’s learning and of the experiences of all
involved. Documentation should add something to the learning experience and inform
planning for future learning.
• Documentation is not used to provide assessment of a comparative type. Teachers need
not attempt to document the same experiences for every child. This would of course be
impossible. Documentation can be used to communicate to others the experience of the
children as a collective unit. Although a photograph shows one child involved in a particular
activity it can often be assumed that other children have had the same experience.
• Documentation is not simply about recording and assessment. It is also a very important
learning tool. Children in both the nursery schools and the infant centres in Reggio regularly
watch slides of themselves showing them involved in their daily activities, as a way of
revisiting their experiences, stimulating conversations and creating relationships.
• Reggio educators are very discriminating in choosing when and what to document.
This ability to select the most valuable learning moments to document should not be
underestimated and is the result of a great amount of professional development and having
the possibility to work closely with co-educators. With the ever increasing development
of documentation in Scottish educational settings there is, in turn, an ever increasing risk of
‘over-documenting’. Educators need to see documentation as an effective tool to be used
when appropriate. It should not represent a ‘running commentary’ on children’s every
moment in their pre-school establishment.
Questions to reflect upon
What methods are currently used to document children’s progress in learning?
How effectively do they document the process of learning?
How can current records of learning be used with children to stimulate learning?
How effectively do current records communicate children’s experiences and learning
processes to parents?
• Do children and parents contribute to the documentation process?
Initial Teacher Training and Professional Development
The Reggio Approach to learning has been described as ‘child originated and teacher framed’.
Although such an approach is not entirely in conflict with the underlying principles inherent
in our own early childhood settings in Scotland, its overall successful adaptation will rely on
the development of a highly skilled and experienced early years workforce. This can only be
achieved through initial vocational and teacher education undergraduate courses that are part
of a coherent national framework, and subsequent professional development programmes that
embody this approach.
Initial vocational and teacher training courses
• Traditionally, initial qualifications have given too little time to the preparation of early years
educators and, it can be argued, have reflected the lack of value given to work in the
nursery environment. Initial vocational and teacher training courses are, however, currently
being reviewed particularly in terms of their relevance to early years education. An
argument has successfully been made for the creation of a new group of awards that would
aim to raise the status of early years professionals and create a highly skilled workforce.
• Considering the existing dynamic, early years climate, and taking into account the increasing
diversity and range of early childhood provision, the Reggio Approach must be seen to
be an important factor in the creation of new early childhood courses and in determining
their content. The key factors inherent in the approach will have a direct impact on how
practitioners engage in the learning process with children in the early years.
Professional development programmes
In recent years in Scotland, we have witnessed a growing commitment to the importance of
professional development programmes in the development and maintenance of quality early
childhood provision. Such programmes are more widely available due to increased funding
from central government, which now acknowledges the critical role it has to play both in
supporting practitioners in their roles as early childhood educators and in the rapid expansion of
the early childhood service.
• This service and these programmes that support it are undergoing dramatic change
and review. The time is therefore opportune for the inclusion of features of the Reggio
Approach in continuing professional development that would extend current thinking
and practice. If practitioners are to be encouraged to become reflective learners and
teachers, this must involve considering not only how features such as documentation and
progettazione might be developed, but also possible ways in which planned time might
be increased for staff to confer and collaborate daily about individual children and shared
practice issues.
• The programme of continuing professional development in Reggio Emilia is exemplary in
its encouragement of partnership and co-operation, not simply between colleagues but
between schools. The range of early years services in Scotland is more diverse, making it
potentially more challenging to enable all educators to engage in professional development.
The Unheard Voice of Children series of publications, Reggio Children, 1995.
Bruner, Jerome, The Culture of Education, Harvard University Press, 1997.
Ceppi, G and Zini, M, Children, Spaces and Relations: Metaproject for an Environment for Young
Children, Reggio Children, 1998.
Dahlberg, G, Moss, P and Spence, A, Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care:
Post Modern Perspectives, Falmer Press, 1999
Edwards, C, Gandini, L and Forman, G (eds), I Cento Linguaggi dei Bambini, Italian edn, Edizioni
Junior, 1995.
Edwards, C, Gandini, L and Forman, G (eds), The Hundred Languages of Children, 2nd edn,
Ablex Publishing, 1998.
Gandini, L and Pope Edwards, C (eds), Bambini: The Italian Approach to Infant/Toddler Care,
Teachers College Press, 2000
Gardner, Howard, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, NY: Basic Books, 1983.
Gardner, Howard, The Unschooled Mind, Fontana Press.
Katz, Lillian and Cesarone, Bernard (eds), Reflections on the Reggio Emilia Approach, Edizioni
Junior, 1994.
Moss, P, and Petrie, P, From Children’s Services to Children’s Spaces: Public Policy, Children and
Childhood, Routledge, 2002
Moss, Peter and Penn, Helen, Transforming Nursery Education, Paul Chapman Publishing, 1996.
Penn, Helen, Comparing Nurseries: Staff and Children in Italy, Spain and the UK, Paul Chapman
Publishing, 1997.
Project Zero and Reggio Children, Making Learning Visible: Children as Individual and Group
Learners, Reggio Children, 2001
Rinaldi, C, In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, Researching and Learning, Routledge, 2006
The Hundred Languages of Children, Catalogue of Exhibition, Reggio Children, 1996.
News Articles
Fontanesi, G, ‘Grandparents at the Infant-toddler Centres and Pre-schools’, ReChild (Reggio
Children Newsletter) No. 2, April 1998.
Pallister, Marian, ‘The Art of Childcare’ in The Herald, 16 October 1998.
ReChild (Reggio Children Newsletter) No. 1, June 1997.
Ball, Christopher, Start Right: The Importance of Early Learning, Royal Society of Arts, London, 1994.
HMIE, Improving Scottish Education: A Report by HMIE on Inspection and Review 2002–2005,
HM Inspectorate of Education, 2006
Scottish CCC, A Curriculum Framework for Children 3–5, The Scottish Office, 1999.
Scottish CCC, Teaching for Effective Learning, Scottish CCC, 1997.
Scottish Executive, A Curriculum for Excellence: Report of the Curriculum Review Group, Scottish
Executive, 2004
Review of Early Years Workforce TBC [MORE DETAILS NEEDED]
Cagliari, P, ‘La Storia, Le Ragioni ed I Significati della Partecipazione’ in La Partecipazione:
Valori, Significati, Problemi, Strumenti, I taccuini, No. 2, November 114. Series of publications
published by Centro Documentazione e Ricerca Educativa. Comune di Reggio Emilia, 1994.
Reggio Children, Reggio Children (mission statement), Reggio Children, 2005
Conference Papers
Alexander, Diane, ‘Hands that Listen, Eyes that Speak and Feel: The Role of Children’s
Expressive Languages in the Pre-schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy’, Expressive Arts Forum, St
Andrew’s College, Glasgow, 1998.
Bertolini, Adriano, ‘ L’Educazione e il Tempo: Tempi della Famiglia e tempi dei Bambini.
Riempire la Giornata o Viverla?’, Conferenza sulle Domande dell’Educare Oggi, Reggio Emilia,
May 1998.
Pugh, Gillian, ‘A Curriculum Fit for Young Children’. [MORE DETAILS NEEDED]
Rinaldi, Carlina, ‘The Image of the Child’, Reggio Children British Study Tour, April 1999.
Rinaldi, Carlina, ‘The Pedagogy of Listening – Creating a Culture of Childhood’,
International Winter Institute, Reggio Emilia, January 1998.
Rinaldi, Carlina, ‘The Pedagogy of Listening’, Reggio Children American Study Tour,
Reggio Emilia, May 1998.
Vecchi, Vea, ‘Children’s Expressive Languages’, International Winter Institute, Reggio
Emilia, January 1998.
Reggio Children
Reggio Children is a mixed public-private company that the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, along
with other interested subjects, decided to establish in 1994 to manage the pedagogical and
cultural exchange initiatives.
Sightlines Initiative
Sightlines Initiative is the UK reference point for the Reggio Children Network.
Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting (CEEP)
CEEP is part of the Early Childhood and Parenting (ECAP) Collaborative at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This section of the CEEP website contains information and
resources related to the approach to early childhood education developed in the pre-school
establishments of Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Reggio Emilia: Catalyst for Change and Conversation
Provides full-text access to the ERIC Digest of this name, which examines the origins and
applications of the Reggio Emilia Approach.